"Support your neighbors, embrace your community, and be active with your peers at the games."
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Hello again and welcome back to AP! Today you'll be reading about Cleveland SC, a brand new team in the National Premier Soccer League. Samuel Seibert talks about why he's starting the team, the response so far, and the future of lower league soccer in Ohio. Check it out.
Tell readers a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Cleveland SC?
I am a Northeast Ohio born and bred sports fan that has always loved all Cleveland has to offer. I was born in North Ridgeville, grew up in Poland, OH (suburb of Youngstown), attended Kent State University for my Bachelor's, and have lived in Lakewood, OH for the past six years. I acquired my MBA in Sports Management from Tiffin University in 2017 and have 10 years experience in the financial industry as well as 2 years experience in Major League Sporting Events. I am currently operating as Owner/President/General Manager to see to it our entity operates to at the highest level in year 1.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer, and what got you interested in starting a team?
I played soccer as a youth and really enjoyed it. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in America and it seems just about everyone has some level of involvement in the sport. My love for Cleveland sports and desire to bring Cleveland soccer fans a winning program drew me toward this endeavor.
What's the origin story beyond Cleveland SC? How has this club come about?
This team spawned from the shear willpower and love for the game of several individuals. The NPSL has been and continues to be committed to the Cleveland market and was willing to let us proceed for 2018 even though team registration had passed. Former NPSL players Coletun Long and Chris Cvecko wanted to play and invited their former teammates along for the ride. NPSL needed a vehicle to help them do that and that is where I stepped in. I had already been in contact with the league since January to consider starting play in 2019. Cleveland loves Cleveland and sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time. Coletun, Chris and I met in February to discuss options and the rest is history.
Last year AFC Cleveland was in the NPSL, and actually won the NPSL Championship a couple of years ago. Where you in contact with the league about joining before it was announced they wouldn't be returning, or did those discussions begin after that was announced?
I was not in contact with the league until after AFC Cleveland was announced they were no longer in the NPSL. Discussions to take the field started in early February with the NPSL.
Since you've pulled this team together rather quickly, how have people responded to your arrival? Are you getting good support and feedback from potential fans and business partners?
We are currently receiving tremendous feedback from fans and business partners alike. Fans are very excited to have a new entity that is built for longevity while seeking top talent. Business partners are looking to be a part of something special, many want to get their foot in the door with us before it's too late. Its not very often a new sports team comes along in Cleveland that will bring national exposure to the market.
Your season is starting soon, and you've got a friendly with Columbus, another new NPSL club, coming up. What one or two things have you run into getting ready to launch the team that was easier than you expected?
The easiest thing, which has been surprising, is working with our potential partners. It’s amazing how this community responds when it comes to sports, working with local entities, and promoting the city’s youth and players. Entities like JCU, CLE Clothing, Notre Dame College, Baldwin Wallace, and Lokal Realty have been easy to contact and partner with on everything so far.
On the reverse side of that question, what have been one or two things that were more difficult than you expected?
Something that has been much more difficult than expected is working with some of the local municipalities. It’s a very busy part of the sport season for high schools, youth organizations, and third party organizers, and that makes it tough to fit into facility schedules and negotiate terms/availability for extracurricular activities.
Have you managed to secure a home field for the upcoming season?
Our home pitch is Don Shula Stadium on the John Carroll University campus located in University Heights.
The NPSL really looks like it's about to take off in Ohio. You and Columbus are starting this year, and Akron is looking to join next year. Are you excited about the future of non league soccer in Ohio? Maybe we'll even see an Ohio conference in the future?
The NPSL is really embracing the “heart of it all” by focusing on the great sports markets in Ohio.
I do expect a more Ohio centered conference in the future as logistics seem to favor it.
What are you most looking forward to in season one with this club?
I’m most looking forward to people embracing the sport throughout Northeast Ohio. The sport does not seem to have enough exposure and we want to help bring more of that.
Is there you anything you hope to accomplish that will cause you to consider the clubs first year a real success? It can be on field or off field goals.
I hope to accomplish the branding of Cleveland SC throughout year one. I want our supporters and partners alike to understand our open culture, dedicated attitude toward community involvement, and great class from our personnel both on and off the pitch.
Let's wrap this up with some short questions. What's your favorite league and or team to watch for fun?
Holland’s quick style and America's Grit are my two favorite styles to watch. The US National Team, men’s and women’s, are my affiliation. I'm a homer so I am always looking for that Nagbe orMorrow headline. I’m sure everyone will want to know who I root for in the EPL which is Everton.
Favorite soccer players, one past, one present.
I’m and underdog guy that loves the X factor and great work ethic. Players like Pirlo, Rooney, Robben, and Tim Howard are my kind of guys that just grind. In the past I was a big Wynalda fan
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to people reading this?
I do enjoy listening to Front Row for local news that is grassroots to Cleveland, Shawn Bartzack does a pretty good job with it. I also follow The Kingston Stockade blog from Dennis Crowley to set expectations for my self and my colleagues around NPSL entities financially and otherwise.
If you could meet one person from soccer history, who would it be?
The one person I would meet from soccer history would be the one that convinces US Soccer to implement promotion and relegation.
Where can people find out more about you and the team online?
People can learn more about Cleveland SC from our website, www.clevelandsc.com along with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
As far as myself, I use LinkedIn to share my professional thoughts, there may be a Wikipedia out there too. If anyone wants to chat firstname.lastname@example.org is the best place to find me.
What would you say to someone asking you why they should get out there and support their local non-league team, like Cleveland SC?
As far as non league teams go, in any sport these players are out there because of their passion. They love to go out there and have fun as a team, working their tail off to prove the team you support is a winner. If you have local pride, support your neighbors, embrace your community, and be active with your peers at the games.
Samuel, thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, please consider supporting us on Patreon by Clicking Here. Or you can click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. Make sure to spread the word by sharing these interviews, telling friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.
Read last weeks interview: Legacy: Jason Kintzler and Fabian Lobera of FC Wyoming